Briefing Notes, 30 March 2012
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 30 March 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR welcomes the adoption on 29 March by the European Union (EU) of a joint resettlement programme. We think this is an important step towards a more substantive contribution by the EU and its member states to the global resettlement programme.
We hope the EU's joint programme will help to increase resettlement places in the European Union as a whole and provide solutions for a greater number of refugees who find themselves in desperate situations. Twelve EU member states currently run resettlement programmes, together contributing to less than 8 per cent of the annual resettlement places on offer around the world.
While participation in the joint programme is on a voluntary basis, increased coordination and larger financial benefits arising from the programme are likely to create more resettlement places in Europe. The programme also allows EU countries to prioritize agreed upon refugee populations for resettlement, including people from Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Myanmar and Somalia.
The joint programme will provide EU member states with additional funding for the reception and integration of resettled refugees in local communities, in particular those European countries that are considering developing a resettlement programme. Moreover, the joint programme envisages financial support for the resettlement of a greater number of highly vulnerable refugees or refugees from a larger number of priority situations.
Resettlement to third countries is a life-saving solution for vulnerable refugees who find themselves in asylum countries that are not able to offer them protection or a durable solution. Up to 80,000 refugees are resettled every year. Most go to the United States, Canada and Australia, while Europe takes in some 5,000 refugees. The adoption of the Joint EU Programme should alter that imbalance.
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